The first thing you will probably notice i that it has been almost 2 weeks since I reviewed Pagan Babies By Elmore Leonard. That is not because this book was less enjoyable only because it was a much deeper much more filling read. It is like comparing how quickly you devour a bowl of ice cream versus how slowly you savor a think Juicy steak. If you are not at all Familiar with Philip Yancey (which I admit I was not), he is a Christian Jounalist and Author who has published many books that attempt to answer some of the more lingering questions in Christianity today.
A little more than a month ago I approached my pastor looking for some ideas for reading material, he recommended Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (which I read a few weeks ago) and "anything by Philip Yancey". I began doing a bit of research on Yancey and thought the best place for me to start was with this book.
In "The Jesus I Never Knew" Yancey; explores the typical image we have of Jesus and then through an extensive examination of literature, culture, and history presents a more clear perception of what it might have been like to be a Jew in the time of Jesus. To know this poor peasant who was born into the most humbling and humiliating circumstances and who did not live a life a grandeur like people may expect. Yancey takes a look at The miracles recorded in the Bible (far fewer and far less grand than you might expect from the savior of the world
Yancey also spends ample time discussing some of the more difficult passages in the new testament (the beatitudes and the sermon on the mount.) He examine God's expectations for us and God's grace when we fail to meet those expectations. Yancey focuses on the truly revolutionary way Jesus went about his day to day life and how it was not what the Jewish people of the Day were hoping for in a Messiah.
Yancey also takes a very deep look into the "Holy Week" during which Jesus was tortured and put to death. He discusses how easy it would have been for Jesus to spare himself and therefor not save all of us, but how He chose the path of the cross. Yancey also has some very keen insights into the Resurrection.
This book is very well written and offers insights from such diverse sources as film study, Tolstoy, and Martin Luther King Jr. Yancey mixes in some anecdotes from his own life and shares some of his own struggles with getting to know the authentic Jesus.
Like, Yancey I come from a strict, fundamentalist church and throughout my life I have always heard about all the things Jesus Didn't want us to do. Yancey does a great Job of stripping away all the misconceptions and helping me to admire and appreciate Jesus more than I did when i started the book.
I highly recommend this book to any Christian or non-Christian who wants to gain a better understanding of who this Jesus of Nazareth truly is and the wonderful grace he gave to all of us. I would recommend having the Bible beside you as you read this book so you can make your own decisions about what the passages Yancey refers to are saying and so you can form your own opinion about the man Jesus. I would rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and will buy a copy for myself to read and study further in the future.